Posted on May 06, 2014, 6 a.m.
Higher blood levels of omega-3 correspond to longer sleep with fewer awakenings, among children.
An ever-expanding library of data suggests a variety of potential health-improving benefits of omega-3 fatty acids – compounds found abundantly in “fatty fish” such as salmon, herring, and sardines. Previous studies have suggested links between poor sleep and low blood levels of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, among infants and in children and adults with behavior or learning difficulties. Paul Montgomery, from Oxford University (United Kingdom), and colleagues assessed eep in 362 healthy 7-9 year old UK school children in relation to the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) found in fingerstick blood samples. The children who took part in the study were not selected for sleep problems, but were all struggling readers at a mainstream primary school. At the outset, the parents filled in a child sleep questionnaire, which revealed that four in ten of the children in the study suffered from regular sleep disturbances. Of the children rated as having poor sleep, the researchers fitted wrist sensors to 43 of them to monitor their movements in bed over five nights. This exploratory pilot study showed that the children on a course of daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly one hour (58 minutes) more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the children taking the corn or soybean placebo. Writing that: “Cautiously, we conclude that higher blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid may relate to better child sleep, as rated by parents,” the study authors submit that: “objective evidence from actigraphy suggests that docosahexaenoic acid supplementation may improve children's sleep.”
Montgomery P, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Richardson AJ. “Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study - a randomized controlled trial.” J Sleep Res. 2014 Mar 8.